Stillbirth refers to the death of fetus after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Stillbirths usually happen before a woman goes into labor.

Stillbirth may be caused by:

  • Chromosomal disorders
  • Poor fetal growth
  • Infection
  • Complications of multiple gestation—being pregnant with more than one fetus
  • High blood pressure or other conditions in the mother
  • Rh incompatibility, which occurs when the mother has Rh-negative blood and fetus has Rh-positive blood
  • Umbilical cord prolapse, which occurs when the umbilical cord descends into the vagina too early and cuts of oxygen to the fetus
  • A loop or knot in the umbilical cord
  • Placental abruption, which occurs when the placenta that nourishes the fetus separates from the uterus before the fetus is delivered
  • Placenta previa, which occurs when the placenta becomes implanted near or over the cervix

In many cases, the cause is unknown.